Thursday, September 3, 2015

3 Rings

Remember the 3 rings? In the world before the smart phones, and text messages it was the secret yet universal bat signal between family and friends.

Just give me three rings!

What are three rings? It is when one person using a landline telephone (most likely with a rotary dial) calls another person also on a landline and lets the phone ring three times before hanging up. The call is not answered and therefore was free.

It was a signal that everyone understood.

It was children ringing their parents from school/their friends house/the party/Saturday morning sport to let them know that they were alright/ready to be picked up.

It was the husband to his wife to tell her he was leaving the office now and on his way home (yes this is sexist in the current era but historically accurate)

It was friend to friend to tell them I am leaving home now and ready to play.

It was secret romances telling each other I am leaving home now and ready to play.

With a signal that can mean so many things the trick was to have agreement of the definition of the three rings between the communication sender and receiver. On any given day the meaning could change based on the approximate time.

3.30pm children ready for pick up from school
5.30pm dad leaving work
6.00pm a child has finished their music lesson
8.00pm someone’s date is about to start
Midnight someone’s date is ending
1.30am someone’s date is wanting some more loving
5.00am someone is prank calling

It was simple and lead to surprisingly few mixed messages, and it was free. Compare that to the complexity, confusion and cost of modern communication systems as people misread, misinterpret or just plain miss vital pieces of information.

Perhaps the current Australian government could improve its communication by getting rid of press releases and media conferences and just simply giving their departments and the general public three rings. We always know what it means!

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